A new report published today by SPERI finds that the impact of the pension ‘triple lock’ is modest and should be maintained. In this new Brief, Craig Berry explores the merit of the criticism the triple lock attracts by considering the policy’s long-term impact on state pension outcomes; in short, the triple lock is assessed as a pensions policy, not simply a pensioner policy. The analysis places the triple lock within the context of the wider operation of the UK state pension system for different age groups, after comparing the UK state pension system with those of other developed countries. The analysis finds that concerns about the state pension triple lock being too expensive, or unfair on younger generations, are misplaced. The Brief argues that the triple lock helps to nudge the value of the state pension towards the OECD average – albeit arguably far too slowly – and considers, finally, other policy options that might mean that the same goal can be achieved in a more fiscally sustainable manner.
Dr Craig Berry, SPERI deputy director and author of the report, said:
“Young people are the main beneficiaries of the triple lock. There are several options the government could pursue to enhance the value of the state pensions today’s young people will become entitled to when they retire – but few have the elegant simplicity of the triple lock.
“The underlying problem with the triple lock is that the 2.5 per cent lock only applied when the economy is experiencing a downturn. The government could therefore look instead to over-index the state pension when the economy is in good health. This would enable the same policy goals to be achieved without jeopardising the long-term interests of today’s young people.”
The full report can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI hopes to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.
On Friday 12th of May SPERI, together with the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, hosted a panel discussion ‘Brexit and the Environment – Opportunity or a threat?’. The event was part of the Festival of Debate and was well-attended by the public.
The panel consisted of Dr Apolline Roger (Lecturer in Environmental Law at the University of Sheffield), Kate Jennings (Head of Site Conservation Policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), James Copeland (Environment and Land Use Adviser at the National Farmers Union, North-East region), and Paul Blomfield (Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sheffield Central). The event was chaired by Daniel Bailey of SPERI.
The panel opened with each of the panellists giving a short talk on their views on Brexit and the environment, bringing up points on where they saw the major threats and opportunities that Brexit may bring about for the British natural environment. The general consensus across the participants was that whilst there are many potential threats, it is hard to find opportunities though this is not impossible. The uncertainty brought about by Brexit featured widely, irrespective of the point of view the panellists represented.
Once the panel had voiced their views, the floor was opened to questions from the audience which sparked a lively discussion. The discussion covered a wide range of issues including land use in farming, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, the right scale of governance at which decisions about the environment should be made and whether it will be possible for the UK to have more ambitious and stricter environmental regulations post-Brexit, among many others. The event successfully increased awareness of the difficult and complex issues around Brexit and the environment that will unfold over the coming years.
Professor Colin Hay, Co-Director of SPERI, was interviewed by David Coffey of Radio France Internationale about the surprise UK general election.
Listen to the interview in full here or watch below. The topics that Colin discussed included the current levels of public support for the Conservatives and the Labour Party, the likelihood of a second independence referendum in Scotland and the potential that Brexit could lead to the unification of Ireland.
With its tenth anniversary approaching, it is clear that the 2008 global financial crisis has had significant ramifications throughout Europe that are still being felt today. Many European economies remain stagnant, with sluggish wage growth and increasing labour market precariousness. Although all age cohorts have been affected by the specific impacts of the crisis, young people across Europe in particular are among the groups most affected, in part because they will live with the aftermath for longest, and in part because of the crisis’ specific impact on their socio-economic circumstances.
We are pleased to announce a new SPERI research project that will investigate the post-crisis political economy of young people across Europe today, and the role played by the crisis in explaining their situation and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness. It will look at questions such as:
- How young people have responded to crisis across Europe, and the extent to which such responses have been framed as being for as well as by young people.
- How political elites have responded to young people’s socio-economic circumstances, and the ways in which intergenerational issues have been framed by elites.
We have secured new funding for the project from the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) as part of our ongoing research partnership.
We are also very pleased to announce that Kate Alexander Shaw will be joining SPERI as a postdoctoral research fellow to lead the new project which will run throughout 2017.
Kate is currently at the LSE where she is completing her doctoral research. She has previously worked as a policy analyst at HM Treasury and the Greater London Authority. Her most recent publication ‘Organized Combat or Structural Advantage? The Politics of Inequality and the Winner-Take-All Economy in the United Kingdom’ (co-authored with Jonathan Hopkin) was published in Politics & Society in 2016. You can find out more about Kate on her SPERI profile page.
The new project will form a central part of SPERI’s Young People and Generational Change research programme which is led by Craig Berry and Colin Hay, as well as contributing to our European Capitalism research programme. It will also complement and link in with FEPS’ ‘millennial dialogue’ research programme.
We are pleased to publish another SPERI Global Political Economy Brief – No. 8 in the series. The authors are John Mikler and Ainsley Elbra, both of the University of Sydney, and the title of their Brief is Paying a ‘Fair Share’: Multinational Corporations’ Perspectives on Taxation.
In the Brief Mikler and Elbra address the issue of global corporate tax avoidance and consider how multinational corporations (MNCs) can be made to pay their fair share of tax. They focus in particular on the strategies to avoid taxation deployed by Apple and Google and consider in depth the public enquiries undertaken in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom into the methods of avoidance adopted.
The authors conclude that:
- Governments must take the lead in developing effective taxation regulations, rather then relying on self-regulation or working with MNCs;
- Global corporate tax avoidance is not caused by market forces, but by the nature of regulatory competition between states;
- As the major headquarters for MNCs, including those most heavily implicated by their aggressive tax avoidance strategies, the United States must take the lead in regulating them to pay their fair share of tax at home and abroad.
The paper can be downloaded here.
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a part-time research assistant to join SPERI and work alongside deputy director Dr Craig Berry on research linked to the Commission on Economic Justice established by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The successful candidate will be based at SPERI and will join our dynamic community of researchers. The project will primarily entail exploring the relevant political economy literatures that relate to the following aspects of the contemporary UK political economy around which SPERI’s work for the Commission will focus:
(a) Ownership of firms and organizational types
(b) Combining paid and unpaid work, and closing gender, class and ethnic minority gaps
(c) The subnational settlement: institutions, policies and fiscal powers
(d) Developing the local community-based economy
(e) Fiscal, monetary, infrastructure and trade policy frameworks
(f) Measuring and understanding the economy
(g) Taxation: share of GDP and progressivity of the tax system
This is a fixed-term post from 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017. It is expected that the research assistant will have working hours of 21 hours per week during this period. For more details about the role, and to apply, please visit:
Salary: Grade 6 (£25,298 – £29,301 per annum pro-rata) Closing date for applications: 16 May 2017
The reference for the post is UOS016119.
Applications must be made online through the University job portal.
Interviews will take place in late May or early June. Questions about the position can be directed to SPERI’s administrator, Laure Astill (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SPERI professorial fellow Andrew Gamble and research fellow Scott Lavery contributed to the Sheffield Fabians conference on Saturday 29th May.
Andrew spoke on a panel alongside Lord Maurice Glasman (Labour Peer) and Paul Blomfield (Sitting MP, Sheffield Central) on Brexit and its implications.
Scott spoke on a panel alongside Richard Caborn (former trade minister, adviser to Advanced Manufacturing Park) and Leigh Bramall (former Deputy Leader, Sheffield City Council) on regional economies and investment.
You can listen to all of the panels at the conference here.
Professor Tony Payne, co-director of SPERI, recently sat down with Liam Byrne MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth, to discuss the importance of inclusive growth.
Watch the video here:
SPERI and openDemocracy have launched a new collaboration to explore the themes of labour rights and worker organisation in the modern economy. Work for many people is changing fast with concerns about low pay, casualisation and insecurity central to current policy debates. Issues and questions connected to the ‘gig economy’ and ‘platform-working’ have increasingly come to dominate academic and policy discussions about the nature of work in the modern economy.
Our new collaboration with openDemocracy will explore these themes and will be led by Tom Hunt, SPERI’s Policy Research officer. The first part of the collaboration will see a new series of articles on these themes published jointly on the SPERI Comment blog and openDemocracy’s Beyond Slavery and Trafficking hub. The hub explores issues of labour, work and exploitation and was founded and is co-edited by Genevieve LeBaron, SPERI Research Fellow and leader of our research programme on ‘Labour and Work in the Global Political Economy’.
Tom is curating the new series and has written the first article in the series which you can read here.
Over the coming weeks the series will feature a range of contributions from expert authors from organisations including the International Labour Organisation, the Resolution Trust and the New Economics Foundation. Contributions will also come from leading academics working in this field and crucially from those in the labour movement who represent today’s workforce. They will include long-established pro-labour organisations like the Trades Union Congress as well as smaller, newer organisations like the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). The authors will examine questions such as:
- How are trade unions and new pro-worker organisations, in the UK and around the world, adapting to the ‘gig economy’?
- What lessons can UK workers and trade unions learn from alternative forms of worker representation around the world and new forms of organising?
- How can technology be used by unions and workers to enhance rights and achieve pro-labour outcomes?
- Do terms such as ‘employee, ‘self-employed’, ‘worker’ and ‘freelancer’ adequately describe today’s jobs and offer appropriate legal protections?
- Are more flexible, non-standard forms of employment changing people’s attitudes towards work – especially younger workers entering the workforce today?
To find out more please contact Tom Hunt
Registration are now open for a new public event on Brexit and the environment taking place on Friday 12 May 2017 at 5.30pm in the Diamond.
The EU has championed environmental causes, but it hasn’t been perfect. This event will look at whether the increased sovereignty post-Brexit will create a threat or an opportunity to achieve environmental goals. Join politicians, policy-makers and EU law experts to discuss whether the UK environment will be better off after Brexit.
- Dr Apolline Roger, School of Law, The University of Sheffield
- Paul Blomfield MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central
- Kate Jennings, Head of Site Conservation Policy, RSPB
- James Copeland, Environment and Land Use Adviser for the North East Region, National Farmers Union
- Chaired by Daniel Bailey, SPERI
This event is part of the Festival of Debate: www.festivalofdebate.com
On Friday 31st March SPERI celebrated the publication of our latest Global Political Economy briefs by holding a policy roundtable event at the University of Sheffield. The roundtable, funded by the ESRC, “Understanding EU Business views on Brexit”, brought together a select group of representatives from academia, employer organisations, business and policy advocacy groups to discuss our latest briefs: ‘Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin: Post-Brexit Rivals to the City of London?’ and ‘EU Business Views on Brexit: Politics, Trade and Article 50’. The former brief on the City of London has been covered by the Guardian newspaper here.
Key speakers at the event included Alex Cobham (Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network), Neil Foster (National Research and Policy Officer at the GMB union), Mick Moran (Professor of Government at the University of Manchester Business School) and Allie Renison (Head of Europe & Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors). The event was chaired by SPERI Associate Fellow Dr Desiree Fields from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography.
The roundtable was opened by SPERI co-director Professor Tony Payne before Dr Scott Lavery, the project leader, summarised the findings of the two new briefs. They argue that (a) powerful firms and business interest groups are likely to have a significant influence over the shape of the Article 50 negotiations and (b) that despite the widespread acknowledgement that the City of London is likely to remain dominant after Brexit, there is a consensus coming from Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin that opportunities exist for them to attract vulnerable sub-sectors from the City. Dr Fields then invited each speaker to share their thoughts on Brexit in general and on the SPERI policy briefings in particular, before opening up to a ‘roundtable’ format.
The panel noted that while Brexit had presented a moment of catharsis and an opportunity to ‘take stock’ of Britain’s industrial strategy considerable domestic and international barriers remained, with Brexit potentially amplifying already existing problems with the UK’s economic model. The panel also discussed how Brexit is likely to lead to sectoral divergence amongst the UK’s businesses with some areas of trade and commerce proving to be more resilient than others in the face of a potential loss to the single-market. Finally, the issue of deregulation of the City of London was discussed. While there was a general consensus that the UK’s exit from the EU could potentially result in a regulatory ‘race to the bottom’ there was a general feeling that Brexit would not result in a ‘bonfire of regulation’. Likewise, it was agreed that although there would be some kind regulatory equivalency adopted by City regulators post-Brexit this would not result in the adoption of exact standards but rather regulatory co-operation.
‘The Political Economy of India’s Growth Episodes‘ authored by Sabyasachi Kar and Kunal Sen and published in the SPERI Palgrave Pivot series was launched in New Dehli with a keynote speech by Dr Naushad Forbes, President of the Confederation of India Industry (CII). Read the coverage in the Asian Age: Post-Independence Growth gets a fresh perspective.
The book breaks down the last 65+ years of Indian development into several episodes of growth, providing a rich set of insights into the political economy of the Indian development process. The first of these episodes, running from the 1950s to 1992, was mostly characterised by economic stagnation, with a nascent recovery in the eighties. The second, covering the period 1993 to 2001, witnessed the first growth acceleration in the economy. A second acceleration ran from 2002 to 2010. The fourth and final episode started with the slowdown in 2010 and continues to this day. The book provides a theoretical framework that focuses on rent-structures, institutions and the polity and demonstrates how changes in these can explain the ups and downs of growth in India.
Two new SPERI Global Political Economy Briefs are published today. The first Brief, Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin: Post-Brexit Rivals to the City of London? assesses the strategic positioning of alternative financial centres in the aftermath of Brexit. It shows how three major rivals to the City are organising to attract ‘low hanging fruit’ from London.
Read coverage of the Brief in the Guardian: ‘EU financial centres vie to poach tens of thousands of City jobs‘
The second brief, EU Business Views on Brexit: Politics, Trade and Article 50 analyses the positions of key employer organisations within Germany, France and Ireland in relation to Brexit and their trading relationship with the UK.
Authored by Dr Scott Lavery and other SPERI researchers, the two briefings draw on a review of over 300 German, French and English language policy documents, policy papers and press briefings between the EU referendum in June 2016 and March 2017.
The Briefs draw a number of conclusions:
- Although it is highly unlikely that alternative financial centres in the EU will replace the City of London as Europe’s premier financial centre, certain financial market activities are potentially vulnerable to relocation after Brexit.
- Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin have all identified euro-denominated clearing, fintech, asset management and financial regulation as ‘low hanging fruit’ which could be relocated after Brexit.
- Private and public sector actors within these alternative financial centres have taken concrete steps in order to benefit from Brexit. France has been particularly aggressive, making changes to its tax code and advancing programmes designed to draw in financial sector investment in the wake of Brexit.
- Additionally, key actors in all three alternative financial centres are using Brexit as leverage to to agitate for pro-business tax cuts and regulatory reforms both domestically and at the EU level. The body representing Paris’ financial sector, for example, has called for a “competitiveness and attractiveness shock” to the French economy in light of Brexit, organised around corporation tax cuts and reductions in taxes on bankers’ pay.
- The EU Business Views on Brexit Brief identifies the five export sectors across Germany, France and Ireland which are most exposed to a worsening in the terms of trade with the UK.
- There is evidence that businesses within these sectors – and business organisations more broadly are seeking to retain as close a trading relationship with the UK as is possible. There is little appetite for the UK to be ‘punished’ for its decision to leave the EU lest this impacts negatively on trade surpluses with the UK.
- However, EU business groups are also clear that the UK should not receive ‘special treatment’ which compromises the integrity of the Single Market. German employer organisations in particular are concerned that excessive concessions to the UK could precipitate further instability within the EU.
On Wednesday 29 March the Industrial Strategy Commission, which is led jointly by SPERI, held an evidence session at Factory 2050, part of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield. The session was attended by 50 representatives of businesses in Sheffield City Region and by academics and policymakers.
Keynote speakers at the event were Julie Kenny CBE DL and Paul Houghton, two leading local business figures and board members of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership. Paul and Julie shared their views on what a new industrial strategy should focus on. Paul argued that a new industrial strategy must have 4 key features: it must provide certainty for businesses; it must provide clarity for businesses; it must be entrepreneur-led and it must be focused on the needs and strengths of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Julie stressed the importance of long-term investment in order to help SMEs grow and how she believes devolution is vital to ensuring a new industrial strategy is a success.
A wide ranging discussion then followed and attendees shared their views and ideas about what a new industrial strategy should focus on. Amongst others, the themes discussed included: how best to ensure new devolved powers are used to support industrial strategy aims; the opportunities and risks presented by Brexit; how to encourage a long-term investment mindset; how to improve procurement in the public and private sector to increase competition and value; the skills and investment needs of SMEs; the opportunities to improve health and social care by utilising the expertise of medical technology companies.
The event at the AMRC was just one of a series of events, meetings and evidence sessions that the Commission is holding in the coming weeks. These events will help to inform the Commission’s work and engage with the public, policymakers and key industry stakeholders. Find out more about upcoming evidence sessions and how you can attend. The next event is in Manchester on 4 April and will focus on health and social care.
All of the ideas and comments from the evidence session at the AMRC will be considered by the Commissioners and used to inform the Commission’s recommendations and analysis. Details of how to submit evidence to the Commission are available here. The submission deadline is 2nd May 2017.
The Industrial Strategy Commission is led jointly by SPERI and policy@manchester. It is an authoritative inquiry into the development of a new, long-term industrial strategy for the UK. Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, and Professor Richard Jones, SPERI Associate Fellow and Professor of Physics and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, are members of the Commission team. Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer at SPERI, is managing the Commission’s work.
‘Brexit Britain’: Where does the UK growth model go from here? New Policy Brief published by SPERI, FEPS and Policy Network
We are pleased to publish the third Brief of a series drawing on the project ‘Diverging Capitalisms? Britain, the City of London and Europe’, jointly organised by FEPS, Policy Network and SPERI.
In this Brief Andrew Gamble and Scott Lavery, both of SPERI, offer a brief historical overview of the development of the UK growth model and the strategic orientation of British business groups. They outline how Brexit has problematised conventional economic and business strategies and the potential development trajectories for the British economy now that Article 50 has been triggered.
The findings presented in this Brief take the analysis developed as part of the workshop entitled ‘After Brexit: British and EU capitalisms at the crossroads?’ held in Brussels on March 24th 2017.
A rare screening of the 2015 documentary, ‘Generation Right’, will take place on Thursday 4 May at 18.00 in the Diamond at the University of Sheffield. It will then be followed by a panel discussion of the issues raised in the film involving a number of eminent speakers.
‘Generation Right’ shows how the UK has been profoundly changed by Margaret Thatcher’s long period of office as Prime Minister. The documentary, directed by Michelle Coomber and based on the research of Colin Hay, Will Jennings, Emily Gray and Stephen Farrall, brilliantly mixes archive footage and interviews with key political figures of that era, including Michael Howard, Douglas Hurd and David Blunkett. The film captures the profound sea change orchestrated by Thatcher with a view to creating ‘a climate of opportunity and enterprise’ and explores in full the consequences of many of the key ‘Thatcherite’ policies of the 1980s.
The screening of the documentary, which lasts 41 minutes, will be followed by a panel discussion and then Q&A. We are delighted to announce that the panel will be made up of: The Rt Hon David Blunkett MP; Baroness Lister of Burtersett, Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough; Andy Beckett, journalist and author of ‘Promised You A Miracle: Why 1980-82 Made Modern Britain’; Andrew Gamble, SPERI Professorial Fellow; and Stephen Farrall, Professor of Criminology at the University of Sheffield and one of the key figures involved in the making of the film.
On Friday March 24, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, many of the SPERI team gathered in Brussels to participate in a one-day workshop entitled ‘After Brexit: British and EU capitalisms at the crossroads?’ alongside an esteemed assortment of fellow scholars, policy-makers, political advisors, and think tank colleagues.
The workshop, organised jointly by SPERI, Policy Network and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), was the third in a series of four events as part of the project ‘Diverging Capitalisms? Britain, the City of London and Europe’. The aim of the project is to consider the changing nature of the British economy, its changing place within the European economic space and potential post-Brexit routes forward.
The event’s attendees debated the future of British and European competitiveness, the consequences of Brexit on the UK’s growth model, the response of British businesses to Brexit and the prospects of EU renewal after Article 50 is triggered later this week.
Two interactive sessions based on the research of SPERI’s Prof. Andrew Gamble and Dr. Scott Lavery were enriched by the contributions of Prof. Leila Simona Talani (King’s College London) and Prof. Engelbert Stockhammer (Kingston University) as discussants. This was followed by a panel discussion with policy-makers and commentators including Prof. Stephany Griffith-Jones (Overseas Development Institute and the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University), Prof. Anke Hassel (Academic Director of the Institute of Economic and Social Research and Professor of Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin), Prof. Gerhard Stahl (Peking University Business School and the European Economic Studies Department at the College of Europe) and Prof. Helle Krunke (University of Copenhagen).
This event was preceded in the Diverging Capitalism series by two workshops at the offices of Policy Network on The City after the Crisis and EU economic governance since 2008. The final workshop in the autumn of this year will focus on inequality and the direction of progressive politics in a dividing Europe.
If you wish to receive more information about the Diverging Capitalisms project or about forthcoming events, please contact SPERI’s Dr. Daniel Bailey.
We are delighted to welcome Bart Stellinga from the University of Amsterdam, who is spending ten days in SPERI as part of the partnership between our institute and the University of Amsterdam’s Political Economy and Transnational Governance programme group (PETGOV).
The partnership was made possible thanks to the award of a Sheffield International Mobility Scheme grant facilitated by SPERI Research Fellow Genevieve LeBaron. This is the fourth exchange between our Universities. The objective of the partnership is to forge closer links with our partners and identify common areas of research and funding opportunities.
Bart gave a presentation on Thursday 23 March in the Department of Politics on macroprudential regulation entitled: “Taming the financial cycle? The macroprudential promise and why reforms do not live up to the high hopes”. His presentation looked at the regulation flaws exposed by the global financial crisis of 2007/2008 and the attempt made by the EU to remedy those flaws. Bart argues that in comparison to initial hopes actual reforms have rather timid as macroprudential policy merely aims to increase banks’ resilience in the run-up to instability rather than prevent future crises. Andrew Baker whose SPERI Paper on the paradoxes of macroprudential regulation was published this week acted as a discussant, which led to an interesting discussion on the issues faced by the financial sector today.
Bart Stellinga is in SPERI until 29 March and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Andrew Baker argues that the emerging political economy of macroprudential regulation revolves around five paradoxes. The first three of these are paradoxes that characterise the financial system and are identified by the macroprudential perspective. In seeking to respond to these paradoxes, macroprudential policy generates a further two distinctly institutional and political paradoxes. The last of these is a central bankers’ paradox which relates to the source of independent central bank authority and the difficulty of building legitimacy and public support for macroprudential regulation.
Functioning macroprudential regulation is about executing a technocratic control project that rests on a depoliticisation strategy, that in turn risks politicising central banks, exposing their claims to technical authority to critical scrutiny and potential political backlash. This is the ultimate central bankers’ paradox in the era of post-crash political economy. Central banks conducting macroprudential regulation need to be aware of this paradox and handle it with great care.
Download SPERI Paper No. 40: Political Economy and the Paradoxes of Macroprudential Regulation.
Applications are welcome and informal conversations can be held with Professor Colin Hay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPERI has been co-directed since its establishment in 2012 by Professors Colin Hay and Tony Payne. Tony retires as Director of SPERI on 31 July 2017, but will remain a part-time member of SPERI’s sfaff as a Professorial Fellow for a further period of time.
We are looking for an inspirational leader, who, working with the other members of the leadership team in SPERI, can provide the intellectual and strategic direction to meet our ambitions for SPERI. A full description of the post can be found here.
The closing date for applications is 20 April 2017.
The reference for the post is UOS015732.